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Struggling to get myself out of this slump, AIBU to think I'm depressed?

(23 Posts)
Whatswrongwithmenow Mon 25-May-20 17:17:37

I have been through a fair few traumatic events in my life. I've felt relentlessly sad sometimes for weeks or months. But I've always even in that time had periods of happiness, I've kept on keeping on. Been able to look forward.

But right now I feel completely hopeless. The line that keeps coming into my mind is from a Yeats poem albeit out of context, 'the years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind'
My life seems completely pointless. I'm not suicidal or anything, don't worry I am far too much of a coward to do that. But it's all such a mess. I've achieved so little. My family sacrificed everything for me and I have nothing to show for it. I've been a useless parent to my own children who are now grown up. I spend all my time wishing I could do it all again, change things, make a difference. But it's all too late. All I've done for the last 2 months since the end of my latest relationship is lie around and eat. I thought at first I was just sad about that, but I've realised it goes deeper. This is not just being sad about a break up, though that's part of it. I don't matter to anyone. I have no friends. I've fucked up my children's lives. I can't even get myself out of bed to do any of the decorating and gardening and other essential jobs I need to do. I just lie around like a lazy pig, stuffing my fat face. And I don't know how to stop or to feel better. Nothing makes any of it hurt less.

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Whatswrongwithmenow Mon 25-May-20 17:54:27


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Completelyfrozen Mon 25-May-20 18:19:01

I didn't want your post to go unanswered.
Please dont be so unkind to yourself. It sounds like you have had a lot to contend with over the years. I have many days like this, so I hear where you're coming from.
I find the only thing that helps at all is to keep busy, find something to do that doesnt involve a screen. There are many times I really cant push myself to do the simplest of tasks, but when I have done so, I find I feel much better within a very short space of time.
Could you set yourself a very small task that needs doing and just commit to doing that now?

Whatswrongwithmenow Mon 25-May-20 18:31:54

Thank you for replying.

I'm going to try and cook us some dinner, which is something useful and one thing I can do right.

Just can't stop thinking about what a mess my life is. 25 years ago I was so optimistic and I've just wasted every opportunity.

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monkeyonthetable Mon 25-May-20 18:36:27

Hi OP,
You definitely sound depressed. That black and white, all or nothing thinking is a symptom.

You can and will recover, and when you do, you will realise you are not a waste of space. You have adult children. You kept them alive, didn't you? Even if you weren't the best mum ever (who is?) you successfully reared them to adulthood. That's all the animal kingdom does and they don't feel guilty.

You are allowed to be sad that your relationship ended. And now is hardly the best time to try and get over it, as you don't have the opportunity to go out and get involved in activities that take your mind off it. Lots of us are stuffing our fat faces without the excuse of a relationship breakdown. Lockdown is excuse enough for many of us. grin

Be nice to yourself. You don't have to want to be nice to yourself. You just have to do it. Daily bath or shower. At least 5-a-day fruit and veg - ideally 8-10. And some good lean protein. Then if you want some comfort food on top, at least you have had all the nutrients you need.

Do you know the 9-box trick to getting your life on track. Draw a large square and divide it into 9 smaller squares. In each, put an aspect of life. You must include Community Service in one and Health and Fitness in another. Apart from that, you can put what you like - separate out Family, Friends and Romance into three separate boxes or put them all in one under 'relationships'. maybe include Work/Finance, Fun or Rest & Relaxation; Study or Personal development etc. Add Faith or Spirituality if you believe, or Nature/Ecology if you don't etc.

Then make a list of some small, medium and large thinsg you could do in each of these aspects of life. Say, three things for each box. One must be easy enough to do immediately, one maybe within a week, another could be more ambitious.

Start doing the ones that are easy and add new easy things to the list. Eg - For Health & Fitness: go for a walk, do a 15 minute yoga online session, a 5 minute meditation online etc. More ambitious might be: download C25K and do the first session.

For community service, it could be adding some food to the local food bank or offering to pick up a neighbour's prescription etc. A bigger one could be becoming a volunteer somewhere or fundraising for a charity.

Bit by bit, this technique eases you back into living a productive life. And if one bit of life goes pear shaped, you have 8 other bits that are starting to flourish. It;s a really simple but really effective system to keep you going when you feel really low and worthless.

monkeyonthetable Mon 25-May-20 18:37:49

Cooking dinner is great. It's practical and useful and everyone appreciates it.

What opportunities do you feel you let slip? What plans did you have 25 years ago?

Completelyfrozen Mon 25-May-20 18:37:51

Cooking dinner sounds good!
Your thread reminds me of the saying 'The days are long but the years are short!'
I often think life is very cruel to only give us one shot. There's no choice to go back and rectify mistakes or do things differently. I think I'd like to have the opportunity to live much of my life again, knowing what I know now, but alas, life isnt like that. If you can find peace, then that's a life well lived I think.
What would you have done differently if you were suddenly whisked back 25 years?

ChatWithMe Mon 25-May-20 18:40:24

Hi Whatswrongwithmenow. Sorry to hear you're feeling low. Yes you are certainly depressed. I used to assess maternal mental health in my job as a health visitor. You have very low self esteem which is causing you plenty of challenges in your life. You tick so many boxes for depression. You overeat and are sedentary which can be a sign of self neglect. You are limited socially. I reckon your sleep and energy levels are problematic for you as well. However the most important factor in all of this is you feel hopeless. It doesn't matter that sometimes you feel happy as this is likely fleeting and not sustained. I'm afraid you really need to share this with your GP. It's unlikely you would be able to get counselling any time soon (18 month wait is not uncommon) but hopefully a referral will lead to you getting sent a self help pack in the post. You can self refer to IAPT. It stands for improving access to psychological therapies. GP might suggest medication but it's up to you if you want to take it. Most are SSRIs which take 2 weeks to improve mood. In the meantime follow NHS advice for emotional well-being: eat well, exercise (walk daily in sunshine), take vitamin D if low or risk of deficiency, reach out to anyone you can trust as socialising is important (can be chat with like minded people online), have a sleep routine, start changing the dialogue of your thoughts through positive affirmations (even if you can't believe it yet tell yourself that you are a lovely person who deserves to feel joy many times a day), help others in any way you like (this is an emotional boost for everyone). Good luck smile

P.S. Winston Churchill referred to his depression as his Black Dog and a short video has been made to help people understand their depression using this metaphor:

monkeyonthetable Mon 25-May-20 18:42:31

I honestly believe it's never too late. Never. You can do a PhD in your eighties, become an artist, a singer, a marathon runner, even a dancer (OAP ballet? I'd go - I'd be intrigued). People become best selling writers and sculptors late in life, their acting careers take off, they invent products, start new businesses, travel the world. There is nothing you have to do when young except maybe sing - even then, some singers still have lovely voices in old age. Whatever you are feeling really in pain at having put off or abandoned, start looking into rekindling it. Would you share it with us and we can help you brain storm it?

Whatswrongwithmenow Mon 25-May-20 19:30:06

If I had the time again I'd spend more time with my parents. And with my children especially.

I had every educational advantage but I didn't do much with it. I do ok now, but career wise I've trapped myself in a corner, I have an easy job that pays reasonably well, 60k a year. But my university peers are exec directors, partners (law firms/ accountants/ management consultants and so on), senior civil servants, diplomats, consultants, basically think of a job earning a good 6 figure salary...

Its not the money as such; I'm happy with what I earn now but I had 10-15 years of slogging at a lot less, I missed loads of time with my children because of work yet my work was never some fantastically well paid role that allowed a luxury lifestyle. I know that probably sounds churlish to complain about earning a decent salary when many people struggle to make ends meet even with benefits. But I feel like I gave up so much for so little. I never went to sports days or open afternoons. I dont remember reading to my sons at bedtime or them reading to me. I never pushed them academically. As a result they underachieved. They both failed selection for local schools (I should have appealed as they only missed by a mark or two but I didnt. Another failure by me) Neither will go to uni. I'm sad about that. I feel I've failed them and my parents, who gave me so much.

I would have tried harder at my relationship too, it wasnt all my fault it failed but I should have done better.

I'd also have tried to make more friends. My best friend died 5 years ago; I'd not seen or spoken to her for 15 years because my life was a mess and I wasn't good enough to be her friend. I was almost at a place where I felt I could reach out when I heard she'd died. I regret losing touch with her because she was a wonderful person and like a sister to me. I find it hard to make friends but she and I gelled right from the start. I wish I'd not been so envious of her and allowed that and my own fuck up of a life to get in the way.

Sorry thats quite long.

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cakeandchampagne Mon 25-May-20 20:02:57

Since looking back is so distressing, you would benefit from some professional help.

Whatswrongwithmenow Mon 25-May-20 20:49:53

Yeah I was thinking that I probably do need to see my GP, but at the present time I'm aware that other people are probably more in need than me.

I have at least made dinner. Am going to try and have a bath and wash my hair as that usually makes me feel a bit brighter too. Will start thinking about the 9 boxes mentioned above too.

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monkeyonthetable Mon 25-May-20 22:31:49

OP, the truth is, we all fuck up in some areas of life. It's simply not true that everyone you were at uni with is on 6 figures salaries. Even Oxbridge has a hefty set of underachievers every year. I know a fair few who ended up in admin or as teachers on modest salaries or in vocational careers (music, acting, media etc) earning a pittance.

You can't get back your sons' childhood. But you can help them now,. They don't stop needing you suddenly at 18. Just chat with them. See if they'd welcome some advice on what to do next. If they 'underachieved' maybe they could find a good college and resit. They could apply to uni after that if they wanted. They could do apprenticeships. Or start their own businesses. You could help with advice, or contact some of those old uni friends on 6 figures to see if they'd help with internships or work experience. You could do some research on the best books, podcasts and videos for advice on how to get on at interview, or how to set up a business or how to explore what you might enjoy when you haven't a clue what to do with your life, and then pass your findings on to your DC.
You could offer them a small sum of money and tell them it's a project fund for them to do what they like with - travel or learn a language or instrument etc. What I'm trying to say is, you have a lifetime ahead with your sons and loads of opportunities to show up from now on and be the support they need.

You make dinner. That is a really good start. Over dinner each night begin gently introducing ideas and offers of support and interest in their wellbeing from now on. Watch movies and comedies with them. Play cards. Go out on walks and bike rides. As lockdown ends, go for lunch or to the pub or a cafe with them. You could end up really close as adults. That's how some family dynamics work.

Whatswrongwithmenow Mon 25-May-20 22:52:55

They aren't very interested in spending much time with me, consequence of me making them independent and leaving then on their own a lot as children. They are both heavily into gaming so spend most of their time on that, or sleeping. Neither are working, one is furloughed and the other has just finished 6th form college. They find school and education boring so I don't think resits will be on the cards. Neither of them has a career plan, I've tried to discuss but they are not interested. They are not particularly money orientated which is good but also bad!

I am one of those not that successful Oxbrixge grads. No friends from uni though, I didn't fit in with all the old Etonians etc. Which is one good thing that my sons have I never did, loads of friends. They fit in to their groups in a way I never have.

We're going to try and have breakfast and dinner together every day now to help me get more routine. They definitely won't come for a walk or anything like that though it'll just be eating together. Which is better than nothing.

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cakeandchampagne Tue 26-May-20 00:15:49

Maybe they would be interested in building or creating something with you for your garden?

Whatswrongwithmenow Tue 26-May-20 08:13:29

Thank you, yes I'm not sure how successful that would be as they're not great with practical way of illustration, at the start of lockdown I asked them to put together a small flat pack item. It is still half finished. They did also start some gardening (strimming and weeding) for me but again they only did a couple of hours and gave up. Better than nothing.

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Whatswrongwithmenow Tue 26-May-20 12:56:56

I'm forcing myself out for a lunchtime walk now. I don't want to go, but I need to. Also it stops me eating for 5 mins.

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Mitsouko67 Tue 26-May-20 13:48:49

Hi what's wrong,
I'm sorry it's so hard atm. I have a lot in common with you as a well educated underachiever. But you know it's OK. We can pay our bills and don't have the stress of big jobs.

I share the feeling of disappointment with the young people I have spawned. 😯
But you know they are adults now and have to find their own way.

Focus on your own health and wellbeing. Dinner and hair washing all good and please make a call to your GP and a helpline today.

It's difficult atm and there's no two ways about it.

AnnaFiveTowns Tue 26-May-20 14:25:18

I gave up my career when my kids were little and didnt go back to work for 10 years because I wanted to look after them; I read to them every single night. My ds has just finished year 11 and he'll be lucky to scrape a handful of GCSEs; he spends all day on his xbox; has little interest in anything other than xbox and football, never wants to go anywhere with me. My Dd is academic but hates school to the point that shes on anti depressants to deal with the anxiety of going to school; she also struggles with friendships due to her severe anxiety. She never reads books anywmore because school has made her hate them.

What I'm trying to say is that we all make different choices in life; your boys sound like normal, happy well - adjusted people; they have a good friendship group - this, above all else, is an indication of good mental well - being. So what if they didnt do that well at school. They've got their whole lives ahead of them to study if they want to. If you'd "pushed them" then the chances are they'd have dug their heels in and done even less. You really are being too hard on yourself. You have raised two well- adjusted kids who have good friends; you have a well paid job ( yes, it's well paid!) You sound very thoughtful and insightful. You've let friendships slip but most of us do that. You csn work on making some new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

As PP said, call the drs get some anti- depressants first to try to clear the fog and allow you to think straight. You are being too self critical because you're depressed. Get some meds and then some counselling and take it from there.

Whatswrongwithmenow Tue 26-May-20 14:36:41

that's very true - I have less work stress (and less to do) now than I had for the last 20 years, that's something.

I feel judged for the fact neither son is uni bound but I honestly am so pleased that they are happy in themselves. One is the embodiment of that part of me that craves people and social acceptance, and he has it in spades. He's so popular and has loads of different groups of friends. No one ever dislikes him. The other is all the dark side of me, has complete disdain for the world around him, has never cared about being popular, just does his own thing but he still has a close group of mates based all round the world that he games with every day. They may not have my academics but they're a lot better at life than I was at their age (or even now).

Will set myself a reminder to call my GP tomorrow as they're not open on Tues. I enjoyed my walk even if it did take me past the bakers for some nice bread for lunch blush. Might try another walk later after dinner (shops will be shut then so it's safer)

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Whatswrongwithmenow Tue 26-May-20 14:49:36

Anna, thank you, it took so long to write my post that yours crossed with mine - it's really helpful to see it from another perspective, I get so enmeshed in thinking about all the things I could have done which would in my eyes have made it all better, I don't stop to think that actually the outcome might not have been different in the long term. I'm so sorry for what your DD is going through, that must be really hard for her - and you.

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AnnaFiveTowns Tue 26-May-20 14:56:46

They're both still very young; they might go to uni in a few years but if not then it doesn't matter.

Yes, getting out for walks is always good. I've started doing yoga with Adrien on Youtube. I've never done it before but it's something I'm trying to get into since I have all this spare time. But just getting out for a walk each day is good. Have you read any of Matt Haig's books - Notes on a nervous planet or Reasons to Stay Alive. Also anything by Cheryl Strayed. I always find that reading helps me out of a hole.

mayneverhappen Tue 26-May-20 15:29:20

Hi op you sound like a very caring thoughtful person. Yours boys will know this and love you for it even if they don’t show it. Exciting times might be just around the corner for the three of you...who knows ... new jobs; friends, partners even grandchildren!!!That time may well come sooner then you think. Do all you can now to help yourself, be kind to yourself and appreciate everything good that you have. We all have things we are sad about and opportunities we missed but like above said this would have taken your life in a different direction and maybe not always have been happier. You achieved highly when you were young and I’m sure your parents were proud. You have given much happiness to your family. Your boys are secure. Use them as your motivation to improve your everyday little by little. Once they see you happier in yourself it will bring a new energy to your family. I have been through similar and promise you it does get better.

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